Tricky question of the week: Time travel?


Happy Monday!

I’m Evan McKinley, the editor for WLHSnow’s new feature, Questions Unique, Excellent, Stupendous, Tricky, Ingenious, Outstanding, and Nifty, or Q.U.E.S.T.I.O.N for short. Each Monday, I’ll post a tricky question that I’ve read or made up, along with my own personal opinion, and you’ll send in your own solution to [email protected]. The best replies will be published with the next question.
So, without any further ado, here is our first question!

Would you prefer to live in the past, present, or future? Imagine that you’ll have enough money and basic knowledge to get you started, and you’ll speak the appropriate language. And you can choose where you’ll live. But your decision is absolutely irrevocable.

Well, this decision is harder than I thought it would be. You’d think that it would be like the earlier, 24-hour visit question, but the ability to change the past, as well as the fact that my decision would be permanent, and that I would never be able to return to my home, makes me reluctant to make it at all. I would really have to think long and hard about never seeing my family again.

On the other hand, this would be a real opportunity. The choice to live wherever and whenever you want is something that no one has ever gotten, and it would be a real shame to waste it. So, let’s look over the options.
The obvious thought is to live in late nineteenth-century Germany, kidnap a baby Adolf Hitler, and move him to a more stable home environment. I’d keep a very close eye on him, as well as Heinrich Himmler, and if either of them started getting dangerous, I’d have to shove them into the hold of a cargo ship to Bora Bora and hope for the best. Oh, and I’d try to do something similar to Stalin. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to touch King Leopold behind all the royal security.

Now, while we’re talking about stopping horrible killers, I would have to seriously consider kidnapping Christopher Columbus. After he “discovered” the Americas, a very large amount of natives died. Not only did he and his men personally kill and enslave people, but the diseases they and the later settlers brought killed up to ninety percent of the North American population. I would save even more lives by holding up Columbus with modern firearms and forcibly moving him to a distant locale, but I don’t know how big the ripple effect would be. How long would it be until someone else “discovered” the Americas? Would there still be a US? If there would be no United States as we know it, things could get very interesting very quickly. And by “interesting,” I mean “potentially catastrophic.”
So, in the end, I would consult multiple historians, and choose the option that would save at least one million lives, and have the least risk of horrible failures.

Well, that’s my answer. What’s yours?

Note: Who ABSOLUTELY does not EVER deserve a federal holiday on the same level of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Junior. On the subject of enslaving Native Americans, Columbus said, “A hundred are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.” Did George Washington have slaves? Yes. Did he do lots of good things? Yes. Did he torture innocent people to death and start the transatlantic slave trade? No, but guess who did? Yes, the guy whose birthday we celebrate on a national level every September.